Under Pressure: Overhauled Jets Offensive Line Needs To Produce In 2020

The New York Jets went 7-9 in 2019 and missed out on the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season. Heading into 2020, head coach Adam Gase is on the hot seat and the team as a whole will look to turn things around, having gone 21-43 over the past four years combined. 

The play of the offensive line was perhaps the most obvious source of pain for the Jets last season. Although it’s a gross reminder, let’s briefly go over the ugly numbers, first in the run game.

Per Football Outsiders, the o-line ranked 31st in running back yards, 27th in stuffed percentage, 30th in second-level yards and 32nd in open field yards. Le’Veon Bell, the most prized Jets free agent signing in a long time, managed a career-worst 3.2 yards per carry and amassed just 789 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in 15 games played. Most concerning was the fact that Bell saw eight-plus defenders in the box just 17.14% of the time and was the second-least efficient rusher out of the 48 backs in the league that saw 86-plus carries. 

In other words, the ineptitude of New York’s offensive line limited any shot of efficient production in the passing or running game. Jets running backs averaged 1.4 yards before contact per rush attempt (32nd) and 1.9 yards after contact per rush attempt (23rd). 

DraftKings is listing Bell’s 2020 NFL over / under for rushing yards at 850.5.

Last year’s unit was almost as miserable in the passing game. Despite seeing 203 blitzes (10th), they allowed 52 sacks (4th-most), 76 quarterback hurries (most) and 49 quarterback hits (10th). Under constant duress, Sam Darnold and his backups averaged just 3.2 completed air yards per pass attempt (31st) and 5.2 completed air yards per completion (30th). 

DraftKings is listing Darnold’s 2020 passing yards over/under at 3,600.5 and passing touchdowns over/under at 22.5. 

Although a 6.5 regular-season win total and +365 odds to make the playoffs might not seem like reasons to be optimistic, there’s a reason why those NFL odds improved from +400 a couple months ago. 

General Manager Joe Douglas addressed the offensive line in the 2020 NFL Draft, selecting left tackle Mekhi Becton with the 11th overall pick and tackle Cameron Clark in the 4th Round. He also went out and signed Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten and George Fant in free agency to nearly completely overhaul the unit. Guard Alex Lewis and right tackle Chuma Edoga are the only returning players who could realistically earn a starting role. Pro Football Focus ranked McGovern as the 15th-best left guard in the NFL while labeling Van Roten as the 10th-best center heading into 2020. 

With Tom Brady finally out of New England and the never-ending rebuild occurring in Miami, the Jets should have a window of opportunity to compete with the Buffalo Bills if, and only if, this new offensive line can produce and allow New York’s playmakers to do what they do best.

If you are going to be betting the Jets this season or the NFL in general take a look at BetQL’s NFL ATS picks from their computer model which analyzes every game and every bet type for the upcoming season. 

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